The Suburbanite
  • North Canton girl, 11, fighting for her life makes cards

  • Emmeline Schumacher, 11, is fighting for her life in an Akron Children’s Hospital bed. An inoperable and aggressive brain-stem tumor continues to grow, swelling her face and making it hard for her to swallow.

    When she has felt better, Emmeline made cards, which she hopes to sell. And now you can buy them.

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  • From her hospital bed, the little girl with the long, auburn hair stops eating a piece of tater tot and leans forward, closing her lips around a syringe as a nurse gives her a shot of liquid medication.
    Emmeline Schumacher, 11, is fighting for her life in an Akron Children’s Hospital bed. An inoperable and aggressive brain-stem tumor continues to grow, swelling her face and making it hard for her to swallow.
    When she has felt better, Emmeline made cards, which she hopes to sell. And, if she feels better soon, she wants to make more.
    “Her hobby has always been to make cards,” according to her mother, Julia Schumacher.
    Some day — when she is old enough — Emmeline wants to open her own card shop.
    While her prognosis may not allow that dream to become reality, friends have stepped in to make it happen now.
    About 800 of Emmeline’s cards will be up for sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today for $3 each at Emmeline’s Cards & More at Oakwood Country Club, 6875 Firestone Ave. NE, in Plain Township.
    The one-day event also will feature gift baskets, jewelry, candy and baked goods. Proceeds will go to her family.
    “It has been such a beautiful thing. Emmeline would just work on these cards every day,” said Debbie Jagger, a family friend who made arrangements for the shop.
    Emmeline is hoping to be there, at least for a little while, her mother said.
    The girl was surrounded by her family Wednesday afternoon as she played cards with her grandfather, Bill Fawcett, who has lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the last 43 years. They share the same birthday. When Emmeline turned 11 on Saturday, he turned 79.
    “The last time we played, she beat me,” he beamed.
    He is the minister of Calvary International Church in Sao Paulo, where he and his wife, Mary Fawcett, live. Julia Schumacher grew up in Brazil. Her husband, Jeff Schumacher — Emmeline’s father — grew up in the Philippines, where his parents are missionaries.
    The Schumachers met while attending Cedarville University. They live in North Canton and attend First Friends Church.
    Their youngest of six children, Samuel, will be 2 years old in July. Isaac is 3, Lillian is 6 and twins Simeon and Sadie are 8. Emmeline, their oldest child, just finished the fourth grade at Lake Center Christian School in Lake Township.
    “Just last night, she said, ‘Can I go to Lake Center for fifth grade?’ I told her, ‘Sure. It just depends on how you’re feeling.’ ”
    She’s not sure how much time her daughter has left. “To me, it’s up to the Lord,” she said.
    Doctors have given the family an estimate on how long they believe Emmeline will live if she doesn’t have radiation treatment and how long with radiation and with the drug Avastin, used to treat cancer.
    Page 2 of 3 - “We did the drug, but not the radiation because the radiation would cause a lot of swelling and the tumor was radiation-induced,” Julia Schumacher said.
    Emmeline suffers from astrocytomas. They are tumors that arise from astrocytes — star-shaped cells that make up the glue-like supportive tissue of the brain, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
    It’s a rare cancer that most often occurs in adults, according to webmd.com. The cause is unknown.
    “The tumor is in the brain stem. It has ... kind of like tentacles,” Julia Schumacher said.
    Her daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 9 weeks old.
    Dr. Cheryl Markle at the North Canton Medical Foundation saw Emmeline and quickly noticed something wasn’t right. Emmeline was “constantly looking to one side,” Schumacher said. In the three weeks that followed, “her head had grown from being in the 60th percentile to the 90th percentile.”
    An MRI quickly led to surgery.
    Doctors weren’t able to remove the entire tumor, and gave the family the option of chemotherapy, but “there’s no research that chemo can help,” Schumacher said.
    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee was the only hospital that would provide radiation, but not until Emmeline reached 1. “Emmeline had her first birthday at St. Jude,” Schumacher said.
    The doctors there were able to remove the tumor. Radiation followed and, through the years, numerous other procedures.
    All six children who went through radiation with Emmeline have since died, so the family counts its blessings.
    “We just feel like we’ve been given 10 years of life that we didn’t really think we would have,” she said.
    Emmeline was diagnosed with her second tumor late in January. Her vision had dwindled to where she could only see out of half of each eye.
    “Last week, she started going downhill so fast. I didn’t think she would be alive in two weeks,” her mother said. Emmeline developed a fever and she couldn’t clear her throat. Pneumonia led to hospitalization.
    “She can’t eat very well or very much any more,” Schumacher said. “She asks, ‘Is this going to get worse?’ I tell her yes. She asks, ‘What’s going to happen when I can’t eat anymore? Am I going to die?’ I tell her you are not going to die from not eating. They will put food into an IV.”
    Emmeline has more questions.
    “She asks is she going to die,” her mother said. She tells her daughter, “If God chooses not to heal you, yes. But we all do. We all die. We just all don’t know when.”
    Page 3 of 3 - The child becomes frightened because “she doesn’t want to be without my husband or me,” her mother said.
    Schumacher said she reminds her daughter what it’s like when she picks her up at the school bus stop. She says her daughter reminds her that she’s late.
    Schumacher smiles, and says, “I tell her it’s going to be like that. She’s going to get to heaven, and it’ll be like she’s meeting a friend and she’ll turn around and we’ll be there. It’s going to be so fast. When you compare eternity to here, it’s nothing. It’s like in no time at all.”
    Reach Lori at 330-580-8309 or lori.monsewicz@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @lmonsewiczREP

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